Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Cyberbullying and subjective health: A large-scale study of students in Stockholm, Sweden

an article by Sara Brolin Låftman, Bitte Modin and Viveca Östberg (Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS), Stockholm University/Karolinska Institute, Sweden) published in Children and Youth Services Review Volume 35 Issue 1 (January 2013)


The increase in the use of mobile phones and the Internet has given rise to new opportunities for people to meet and communicate. However, there are also dark sides to these new forms of communication. One of these is cyberbullying, i.e. bullying via mobile phone and the Internet. Given that cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon, empirical knowledge is still limited and particularly so in Sweden, which in international comparison has reported low rates of bullying in general.

The aim of the study is to investigate:
  1. the prevalence of cyberbullying among students in Stockholm, Sweden;
  2. the overlap between cyberbullying and traditional forms of school bullying, and
  3. the association between the experience of cyberbullying and subjective health.
The study uses the Stockholm School Survey of 2008 which is a total population survey of students in grade 9 of compulsory school (i.e. aged 15–16) and in the second year of upper secondary school (i.e. aged 17–18) in Stockholm and eighteen of its surrounding municipalities (N = 22,544).

About 5 % of the students are victims of cyberbullying, 4% are perpetrators, and 2% are both victims and perpetrators.

There is some overlap between cyberbullying and traditional bullying: those who are victims of traditional bullying are at increased risk of also being victims of cyberbullying; while being a traditional bully is strongly associated with the likelihood of also being a cyberbully.

However, many students who are involved in cyberbullying are not involved in traditional bullying. OLS regression analyses show that being a victim of cyberbullying remains associated with worse subjective health when being the victim of traditional bullying and socioeconomic factors are taken into account. In addition, perpetrators of cyberbullying as well as students who are both victims and bullies, have worse subjective health than those who are not involved in cyberbullying.

► The paper studies cyberbullying and subjective health among students in Sweden.
► The data are derived from the Stockholm School Survey (N = 22,544).
► Cyberbullying is associated with traditional bullying, but only to a limited extent.
► Being a victim of cyberbullying is linked to worse subjective health.
► Being a cyberbully or a cyberbully-victim is linked to worse subjective health.

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